May 13, 2022

John McCain warning on Rand Paul and Putin resurfaces after Ukraine vote

Video of the late Senator John McCain (R-AZ) claiming that Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) was working for Russian President Vladimir Putin has garnered renewed attention online after Paul single-handedly blocked a vote on a new aid package to Ukraine on Thursday.

A C-SPAN video of McCain’s remarks in 2017 was shared to Twitter on Thursday by patient advocate Peter Morley, Democratic strategist Adam Parkhomenko and other social media users.

“So I repeat again – the senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin,” the late senator said in the short video.

In the clip, McCain was discussing NATO membership for the Balkan nation of Montenegro. Paul had blocked a vote to ratify a treaty that would have allowed Montenegro to join the U.S.-led military alliance by refusing to agree to unanimous consent.

During those remarks on the Senate floor in 2017, McCain said that Paul “has no argument to be made. He has no justification for his objection to having a small nation be part of NATO, that is under assault from the Russians.”

Paul Interview

Paul told MSNBC the day after McCain’s remarks: “You know, I think he makes a really, really strong case for term limits. I think maybe he’s past his prime; I think maybe he’s gotten a little bit unhinged.”

The Kentucky Republican also questioned the merits of allowing Montenegro to join NATO in an op-ed in Time magazine.

“Adding a country with fewer than 2,000 soldiers to NATO is not in our self-interest. There is no national security interest that an alliance with Montenegro will advance. If we invite Montenegro into NATO, it will be a one-way street with the U.S. committing to defend yet another country,” Paul wrote.

The Senate went on to ratify the treaty by a vote of 98 to 2, with Paul and Republican Senator Mike Lee voting against it. McCain passed away in 2018.

On Thursday, Paul refused to agree to unanimous consent for a new aid package to Ukraine worth almost $40 billion. He sought a modification to the legislation that would see the inspector general for Afghanistan overseeing funds spent in Ukraine.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) refused to modify the measure and the package is now slated for a procedural vote on Monday and could ultimately be passed in the middle of next week.

Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had agreed to fast-track the passage of the aid package, which passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday with bipartisan support.

Speaking on the Senate floor, Paul said: “We cannot save Ukraine by dooming the U.S. economy” and cited high inflation and the previous $13.6 billion in funding Congress approved for Ukraine in March.

“Unless we put an end to the fiscal insanity, a day reckoning awaits us,” Paul said. “Congress should evaluate the cost of going down this path. We cannot save Ukraine by killing our economic strength.”

Newsweek has asked Rand Paul’s office for comment.

Vladimir Putin, John McCain and Rand Paul
A composite image shows Russian President Vladimir Putin, the late Senator John McCain and Senator Rand Paul. Paul refused to agree unanimous consent to a new Ukraine aid package on Thursday.
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